If you haven’t ever met Pam Costabile, the manager of code enforcement for Augusta-Richmond County, you’ve probably never had a problem with dilapidated houses in your neighborhood or an unscrupulous landlord who refused to fix your leaking roof.
Definitely count your blessings that you’re not faced with such headaches, but you also missed out on meeting one of the best employees that Augusta-Richmond County has to offer.
This past week, Costabile retired after more than 40 years in the city’s code enforcement division.
While she has trained her staff well to handle future code enforcement issues facing this city, no one will ever replace Pam Costabile.
Even Mayor Hardie Davis and the Augusta commissioners were saddened to learn she was retiring.
“Everybody that complains in my district knows Pam,” Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy said, adding that most residents know her by name. “I have met Pam on some of my district’s complaints and I think she goes where no other person will go. She will walk in grass up to your waist. She will go in houses where the roof is about to cave in on you.”
Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias agreed, adding that he met Costabile more than 25 years ago riding through the Sandridge subdivision, quickly addressing any issues residents were facing.
“Pam will be truly missed,” he said.
Over the past 41 years, Costabile was never afraid to shine the light on issues that plagued Augusta neighborhoods and try to come up with a solution for residents.
More than 10 years ago, Costabile spent the entire day with a Metro Spirit reporter and photographer reviewing unsafe living conditions in some of the local trailer parks.
She went everywhere.
Costabile walked through trailer parks battling rats, roaches, overgrown kudzu vines, snakes and horrendously smelling trash.
Whenever she came across someone living in the trailers, Costabile would stop and talk to them, inform them of their rights and offer them help.
While walking through one neighborhood in south Augusta, Costabile came across a woman who joked that for $210 a month, she had the unenviable pleasure of living in one of this county’s trashiest trailer parks.
“When me and my husband first moved here two and a half years ago, we spent a lot of time cleaning this place up,” the woman told Costabile. “We got it looking kind of decent for us to stay, but then things started to go wrong and there was nobody around to fix it.”
When a neighbor, who had four dogs living with her, moved out of the trailer next door, she told Costabile that the owner of the trailer park never bothered cleaning it.
As soon as Costabile walked by, you could smell the terrible odor of dog feces.
“It just needs to be cleaned up. That’s all. I mean, if people are going to live here, at least keep it clean so we don’t have to worry about the rats,” the woman told Costabile. “And some of these other empty trailers need to be moved out or fixed up. Like, this lady that lived next door, she was staying here two years without lights because they didn’t work. She just stayed over there in the dark.”
The elderly woman spent her nights and days in complete darkness in a small rusted-out trailer.
The entire day was an extremely eye-opening experience for the Metro Spirit reporter and photographer.
It was hard to believe that people really live in such conditions throughout Richmond County.
But Costabile saw people living in such conditions each and every day.
Nothing seemed to shock her.
And she never looked down on the tenants who were suffering in those conditions.
She was there to help.
“You have someone to call now – me,” Costabile told the woman in the trailer park, as she shook her hand and gave her a card with her cell phone number.
As Costabile exited the small trailer park that had about a dozen mobile homes on the property, it appeared only three or four trailers were occupied.
The rest sat vacant, falling into disrepair.
Many of the trailers no longer had windows and some appeared to be so rusted they were about to cave in.
As Costabile walked to her car, she looked around and said she couldn’t believe anyone would actually be charging a person $210 to live in a trailer on the property.
“To me, that’s criminal,” Costabile said. “It can’t go on.”
Over the years, Costabile took on landowners that many would call the county’s worst slumlords.
She worked hard to get as many properties up to code as possible and tear down the ones that were inhabitable.
And she never wanted attention for what she accomplished.
In fact, over the many years that the Metro Spirit interviewed her regarding code enforcement, she never wanted her photo taken.
She would say, “Don’t take a picture of me. Take a picture of those houses caving in. That’s what people need to see.”
She’s absolutely right.
Many Augustans have turned a blind eye to the problems in this city’s poorest neighborhoods.
But Costabile was there, each and every day, addressing the problems of this community, one house at a time.
Thanks, Pam Costabile for your dedication to this city.
Over the past 41 years, your hard work has made the Garden City a much butter place for all of its residents, whether they had the pleasure of meeting you or not.